The Italian, who hasn’t finished in the top ten of a dry race this season, crashed out of 13th place in the closing stages at the Red Bull Ring.

"I'm a bit frustrated because it was my mistake into turn 6,” Morbidelli said.

“I went out from the track and then I went to 7 and was really out from the idea line. So I probably picked up some dirt or something and when I reached the next left turn, which is 2B, the front just washed away like nothing.

“A pity, because I felt decently strong. For sure, not like Fabio. I mean Fabio’s pace - especially Fabio’s speed in the beginning - was unbelievable. But then my pace was really decent.

“I could catch up to the group in front of me. I was planning to do some overtaking. I did overtake Miguel already. So I was engaged, I was there, so this is positive.”

Ninth place Marco Bezzecchi (VR46) went on to finish just ahead of Oliveira, suggesting a top ten could have been on the cards for Morbidelli.

However, it would still have been some 16 seconds behind team-mate, title leader and Red Bull Ring runner-up Fabio Quartararo.

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Morbidelli: ‘Good things happened this weekend’

Morbidelli admitted he was “scared” about the Austrian event beforehand, “knowing the characteristics of the track with our bike and everything.

“But actually, I was quite surprised, because the work we are doing with the team is paying off.

“We are progressing and in such a difficult track for us, we were able to be in the top ten in [7th in warm-up], which is positive, but also fight for Q2, which is also positive.

“Good things happened this weekend. Not unbelievably good, but good things happened. This is positive.”

Morbidelli’s third DNF of the season leaves him on 26 points and in 19th place, yet still the next best Yamaha after Quartararo, who leads the standings on 200 points.

That illustrates the size of the task still facing Morbidelli, who was a much closer match for Quartararo as a Petronas Yamaha team-mate in 2019 and 2020, including finishing title runner-up (to Joan Mir) in their final SRT season together.

However, the latest M1 doesn’t reward Morbidelli’s naturally smooth style in a similar way.

Morbidelli: ‘First aim is to get to Q2’

The next step in Morbidelli’s ‘recovery plan’ is to make it through to Qualifying 2 and start higher up the grid.

While Quartararo is ranked second to Ducati's Francesco Bagnaia in the ‘Best Qualifier’ award so far this season, Morbidelli is just 20th and hasn’t started inside the top 15 since round three (Argentina).

“The first thing to do now is to aim at the top ten and be able to get into Q2," Morbidelli said. “I strongly believe that our usual starting position is definitely not helpful, especially for the performance that I then have in the race.

“Today I was catching up big time in the race [but then] I was losing a lot of time when I was behind somebody. So the first aim is to get to Q2, get a good starting position and be in a group where the guy in front of you is pulling away a bit, not holding you back.”

The next event will be Morbidelli home Misano round, on September 2-4.